Rumour has it that it all started when the late Dan Osman, that esteemed American climber, decided to get over his fear of heights… and so he plumped for something equivalent to Russian Roulette…. rope jumping.
It has recently been resurrected in Russia and this new sport, although similar to bungee jumping, makes bungee look like the preferable alternative.
- you don’t use an elastic cord, but a mountain climbing rope.
- you don’t jump in an open, natural space, but off a city rooftop; although any cliff, bridge, or gorge can be an alternative.
As Thad says, “I’m only a high school math teacher, not a physics teacher, but how often do rope jumpers crash into good solid Soviet concrete flats on the way down?”
Good question, but according to entrepreneur and rope jumper, Timofei Zuev, 24, from Nizhny Novgorod, “To my knowledge, there have never been any reports of accidents, injuries or deaths due to rope jumping in Russia. The reason it’s so safe is because we meticulously prepare each jump: the material needs to be at the right tension, correctly placed and correctly fastened. And the jumper is actually tied to three ropes, not one: that way, if one rope tears, the other two maintain his weight. It’s virtually impossible for all three ropes to tear at once, it has never happened.”
In fact, he ascertains, “rope jumping is actually the safest of extreme sports.”
It is still an unauthorised extreme sport in Russia and there is, as yet, no law regulating it. Although not officially forbidden, police usually stop and dismantle any urban rope jumping squads they find, citing safety concerns.
Did Dan Osman expect his idea to become the new big thing for urban youths in post-Soviet countries? Probably not, but he would no doubt be glad to know that his legacy lives on, and on, and on – just witness this next video… it’s a craze that is not likely to go away quickly.